To win at rock paper scissors you can’t just rely on luck. It goes beyond being lucky, here are some techniques and strategies to help you win more consistently at Rock Paper Scissors.
“Cloaking” is the term used for delaying the unveiling of the throw. Put a little more simply, “Cloaking” is waiting until the last possible second to throw Paper or Scissors. In competitive play some players will watch your hands for an indication of which throw you are about to use. By not moving your fingers until the last moment, you can fool such a player into thinking you are throwing Rock. Since a hand-watcher will respond to a well-executed cloak with paper, cloaking Scissors is more useful than cloaking Paper.
“Tells” are visible behaviors through which a player may unconsciously reveal a throw to an opponent. Everyone has them to some degree — they’ve been the poker player’s friend and enemy for centuries. They are the reason that hand-watchers watch hands, but tells aren’t always in the hands. The face and lips are common places to find tells. Records from a tournament in 1923 mention a player who wiggled his toes before throwing Rock. Tells are one reason why players study one another. Serious RPS players will spend time hunting for their tells and learning to suppress them. This can be an on-going project, because suppressing one tell can sometimes create another.
Broadcasting False Tells
Of course, if you can suppress tells, you can also create them. This requires intense coordination and concentration, not to mention planning. In order to make advantageous use of a false tell, you must display the tell long enough for an opponent to notice its significance, then break the pattern at a crucial moment to score a win. Timing is everything. It won’t help you to lose several points because of a false tell only to gain one when you break it.
Proponents of the “Chaos School” of RPS try to select a throw randomly. An opponent cannot know what you do not know yourself. In theory, the only way to defeat a random throw is with another random throw — and then only thirty-three percent of the time. Critics of this strategy insist that there is no such thing as a random throw. Human beings will always use some impulse or inclination to choose a throw, and will therefore settle into unconscious but nonetheless predicable patterns. The Chaos School has been dwindling in recent years as tournament statistics show the greater effectiveness of other strategies.
The Meta-Predictor Strategy
In the International RoShamBo Programming Competition for Janken-playing computer algorithms, the winner was a program called locane powder. It used the strategy from the movie, The Princess Bride, in which the hero had to decide which cup of wine had been poisoned by his enemy. He said, “Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. | am not a great fool, so | can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known | was not a great fool. You would have counted on it, so | can clearly not choose the wine in front of me…”
Its creator, Dan Egnor argues that most people will use the same level of prediction all the time, and if you can figure out what level of prediction your opponent is operating at, it will be easy to defeat him by anticipating his moves. You will have to observe your opponent’s playing style, psychology, and intelligence level to gauge their Predictor level. Few people rise above the level of single predictor however, making that a safe assumption.
Keep it Varied
Finally, never stop working on your strategy! Your opponents are studying you as carefully as you’re watching them. Any strategy, no matter how complicated, can be unraveled if you repeat it often enough. Change. Adapt. Replace old tactics with new approaches. Keep your game fresh, and you’ll keep your opponents guessing!